A challenger is jumping into the race for Roanoke County sheriff.

Richard Crosier, an officer with the Roanoke County Police Department, announced Wednesday that he’s filed to run as an independent.

He’ll be vying for the office against incumbent Eric Orange, a Republican. Orange announced his reelection bid in March.

In his own campaign kickoff, Crosier said he hoped to bring his 21 years of law enforcement experience to the job.

He emphasized the importance of community engagement and pledged to be an easily accessible leader.

“You won’t have to just come to the office,” he said. “I will be out in the community.”

Crosier, 49, is currently a crime prevention specialist with the county police. He said he was a strong backer of community-orientated policing and would work to build on outreach partnerships.

“That is my strong suit,” he said, adding he believed in the importance of engaging the community to educate residents and help them stay safe.

Other priorities he cited included crafting a multiyear strategic plan for operations and ramping up focus on mental health related training for deputies.

Crosier added his first priority always would be on strengthening the office’s core duties. That includes running the county jail, providing courthouse security and civil processing.

Orange, who’s running for a second term, said in his campaign launch that he was proud of the work his office has done to expand its service to the community and introduce new programs to help inmates prepare for life after jail.

The team has tripled its community programs, Orange said, and created more opportunities for inmates to work or hone their life skills.

Three deputies now work in the schools through a partnership to expand resource officer staffing, he added. The office earned renewals of its state and national accreditations, he said, and is aiming to tackle new initiatives in the coming year.

“It has truly been an honor and a blessing to serve the citizens of Roanoke County as their sheriff,” he said in March.

Orange was a sergeant with the county police and a past sheriff’s deputy when he was elected in 2015.

Crosier’s candidacy creates a two-way race for the county seat this year. This is his second run for public office. A Covington native, he made a bid for sheriff in Alleghany County in 2015.

Crosier has a bachelor’s in criminal justice from Radford University. He joined the Roanoke County police in 1999 and has lived in the county for the majority of the time since.

The deadline for all local candidates to file for a spot on the fall ballot is June 11. The general election is Nov. 5.

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Alicia Petska covers what's happening in Roanoke County and the City of Salem.

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